Down in the dumps

No, no, not those dumps.

The other dumps. I'm dumping into my hips in lunges (and many other poses, of course), and it's getting more and more annoying in my practice. I'm finding it particularly inhibiting in lunges in Surya Namaskar when I have to step the back foot forward, and there I am. Stuck in the front leg hip. I have to really push off to move the energy and my body forward. No good. It certainly doesn't feel good on my tender ankle. In fact, it feels like yanking. And I'm pretty sure there's no yanking in yoga.

I know what you're going to say. You're not working from your core. Well, duh. I know. Ever since the "quick" c-section I had four years ago, it is hard to access that core strength. And honestly, I hate the word core. Oh I know, there's no hating in yoga, either. But as soon as I hear that word, I feel like I'm in a screaming Jillian Michaels workout. I'm not a big fan of that sort of thing. More importantly, I don't want my yoga to be reduced to one muscle group. And yet my yoga isn't going anywhere without my abdominal muscles.

So today I revived a cue I learned from Debbie Kurilla, one of my YTT teachers. Hug in to the midline. I like this a bit better and avoids that other word. It's a little more imagery-based than just saying engage your abdominals. For me right now, I think that works. It's a little gentler -- after all, it's got a hug in it. Gentler feels good -- and feels far way from that workout-bunny paradigm. I had some success applying this cue to my standing balance poses -- poses that are particularly challenging for me. So let's see where this takes me.

Here's the thing: I know that my issue with my abdominal muscles is more than just an issue with the muscle fiber. Stuff has built up there -- the trauma of a difficult birth experience and probably more --to be uncovered and tended to with love. Thus begins that endeavor. As I know it is more than just my body, I know that more than just asana needs to be applied here. This calls for my whole yoga.

So I guess this is just a riff on my last post -- it's about honoring where you are, wherever you are. Or maybe it is the beginning of a much different deeper post.

I know everyone has these practice hurdles to jump -- wanna share yours?


I struggle with balance -- in yoga, in life, in everything. So needless to say, the standing balancing poses are generally not amongst my favorites. Add in the ankles -- one with a big fat tendon tear and the other just terribly weak, and you have a recipe for -- well, falling over.

A couple of Saturdays ago, I took a wonderful Anusara-inspired class with my teacher Debbie Kurilla at Shakti. The class was all about balance (oy), and her apex pose was stork. I immediately shuffled myself to the wall, to practice the pose in a way that wouldn't draw attention to my wobbles. And I've been obsessed with the pose ever since. For me, it is so different from Vrksasana or Natarajasana, because there isn't a weird angle to add to the difficulty of the balance. Rooting the four corners of my standing foot into the ground, thigh bones back, shins forward, activating my abdominal muscles, lifting the bending leg with care and awareness, activating and flexing the lifted foot, lifting the arms into urdva hastasana, engaging the shoulder blades firmly on the back while releasing the trapezius muscles -- I'm sure I'm leaving out a slew of crucial cues -- but you get the idea --

For once, I'm having fun with a balance, and I'm just going with it. I practice it in the shower, while I'm at the sink doing dishes, waiting in line at Target. I'm wearing a big 'ol brace on my ankle, so I think it is safe, but who knows... did I mention that I'm actually having fun with this pose? Fascinating. It makes me wonder how I can find fun in the other areas where I feel I lack balance --